Technical And Economic Feasibility Of Telerobotic On-Orbit Satellite Servicing

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2005-03-17

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The aim of this research is to devise an improved method for evaluating the technical and economic feasibility of telerobotic on-orbit satellite servicing scenarios. Past, present, and future telerobotic on-orbit servicing systems and their key capabilities are examined. Previous technical and economic analyses of satellite servicing are reviewed and evaluated. The standard method employed by previous feasibility studies is extended, developing a new servicing decision approach incorporating operational uncertainties (launch, docking, et cetera). Comprehensive databases of satellite characteristics and on-orbit failures are developed to provide input to the expected value evaluation of the servicing versus no-servicing decision. Past satellite failures are reviewed and analyzed, including the economic impact of those satellite failures. Opportunities for spacecraft life extension are also determined. Servicing markets of various types are identified and detailed using the results of the database analysis and the new, expected-value-based servicing feasibility method. This expected value market assessment provides a standard basis for satellite servicing decision-making for any proposed servicing architecture. Finally, the method is demonstrated by evaluating a proposed small, lightweight servicer providing retirement services for geosynchronous spacecraft. An additional benefit of the method is that it enables parametric analysis of the sensitivity of economic viability to the probability of docking success, thus establishing a threshold for that critical value. While based on a more economically conservative approach, the new method demonstrates the feasibility of the proposed server in the face of operational uncertainties.

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